facebookmindreadingJust a few days ago I came across the Facebook meme you see at right. Today, Charlie Stross posted a blog comparing the Internet to “functional telepathy.” Maybe there really is no coincidence.

At first glance, the Internet as functional telepathy seems like something out of science-fiction stories, but when you think about it, our life is increasingly like something out of science-fiction stories. We’re constantly being exposed to what other people are thinking—be they our friends and family who text us, the people we follow on Twitter or Facebook, or the people who write the blog posts we read—like this one. As Stross puts it:

A side-effect of this process is that we’re becoming used to a constant background roar—the global id in full throat, blasting us with the prejudices, rumors, superstitions, bigotry, and (less obviously) love and passion of the entire human species. Everyone being online means that anyone can in principle yell in your ear at any time, be it encouragement or rape and death threats.

Stross notes that we’re seeing a lot of companies trying to become information brokers, but in order to compete they’re having to be able to provide their services at an ever lower price—eventually, for free. (And even ad-sponsored results are vulnerable to being compared to results from other services in multiple browser tabs.) Stross observes:

Ultimately most of those middle-men are doomed: they simply can’t add enough value to stay viable as information arbitrage brokers in a telepathic world.

So where do we go from there? (Is telepathy compatible with the continued existence of capitalism?)

It’s a good question. As more services start reducing their costs, the world is starting to be a very interesting place.


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